Mobile devices, and more importantly smartphones, are now owned by over 77% of North Americans, according to Pew Research Center's 2017 analysis. This gives companies a compelling reason to focus on mobile commerce experiences that improve their overall sales and satisfaction through the use of smartphones. The ability to think outside the customary box is becoming essential to acquiring new customers as well as keeping the attention of existing customers. The possibilities for new and creative ways to achieve this are seemingly endless.
The consumer's shopping experience will be drastically simplified in the coming years. This is already happening with the introduction of mobile tap-and-goservices like Google Wallet, ApplePay, and now a slew of other electronic mobile wallets using near field communication (NFC) technology. These mobile apps store credit card information and allow for a quick and effortless way to pay for in-store purchases without the need for a physical wallet. Customers have been quick to embrace the idea of leaving their wallet at home and continue to shop carefree.
(image source: http://techoyou.blogspot.ca/2013/12/nfc-touch-tap-go.html)
2. Beacon Technology
Now that Bluetooth technology is integrated in the everyday smartphone, beacon technologies have become more common in the commerce space. Beacons work by sending out signals about a phone's relative position in order to then deliver targeted messages such as promotions, product recommendations based on your current shopping habits, physical proximity to product near you in the store or even direct customers online to avoid long lines. This positional information is sent over Bluetooth from in-store beacons to mobile devices which in turn can be used to enhance the customers shopping experience, leading to more sales and higher customer satisfaction.
3. Augmented Reality
Even the camera, which is one of the most common features of a mobile phone, can be used in enhancing your in-store and online shopping experience through augmented reality. Just imagine holding up your phone with a custom mobile app that takes advantage of your camera by overlaying eyeglasses right on your face before you buy them online. Or walking through a store using augmented reality to overlay product information or paths to navigate to the product you're looking for.
4. Personal Digital Assistant
Having a digital personal assistant (think Siri, Alexa, Cortana, Google Now, etc.) is a growing area that becomes more and more effective with every bit of data gathered from users. When customers shop online, surf the web and even travel to stores with their mobile phones, information is being gathered about their habits and persona. The more information that's gathered, the better these personal assistants will be at recommending and providing relevant products you may want or need to buy, when you need them. It will ideally know what you want even before you do, and give you opportunities to act on those impulses by providing the opportunity to buy in helpful and meaningful ways.
5. Virtual Reality
Mobile devices will have a significant role to play in the Virtual Reality space in relation to eCommerce. There is the possibility you could sit in the comfort of your own home, put on a VR headset (such as Google Daydream), and be transported directly into a virtual retail store. The experience could feel like the actual retail store, or use a custom store layout that displays products in ways the real world couldn’t. You'll be able to walk around, check out products, pick them up in the virtual space and ultimately purchase them. You can have a shopping experience that can bring you closer than ever to being there.
We have slowly witnessed mobile phones become an essential aspect of the eCommerce landscape. As devices become more powerful and bandwidth becomes less expensive we will continue to see a major shift in the way customers interact with physical and virtual stores throughout their shopping journey. From custom mobile apps that can be tailored to the individual customer's likes and dislikes to completely virtual stores, we will be overloaded with endless possibilities in the coming years. Our only limitation is our own creativity, since the technology is now available to accomplish almost anything we can think up.
By Steve Ozipko
With 15 years of software experience specializing in mobile and IoT, Steve's focus is on growing and strengthening Thinkwrap's Front End development team. He likes taking new technologies and finding creative ways to integrate them together with a passion for augmented reality.